Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Summer Faves

Memorial Day has come and gone & school is still in session. But you know that first long weekend signifies summer to most of us. It's the beginning of our pool and shore trips, bbq's, road trips, etc. I thought it would helpful if I posted all the stuff I'm liking to make life a little easier for summer fun.

I knew I needed a new pool/beach bag. I had a Coach bag that was "meant" to be a beach bag but it isn't practical at all. I got it at Loehmanns years ago when I was single & just me going down from my apartment to the pool in my building. The handles are too short, which always seems to be the case, it's lined in satin (Um what? What if it gets WET?!). What I did like about it was the inner pockets which also seem hard to find. I had another bag but it was deep & had no inner or outer pocket. Stuff just got lost in there. On a message board I'm on a few people mentioned the Whale Bag from Saltwater Canvas. I checked it out and they have a whole bunch of assorted bag sizes. The
description of the Whale says it holds six beach towels. Of course I had to order it. They have a "sale" section where you can get a discount on multiple bags or irregulars. I ordered the irregular for $5 off. It's a beach bag- the stitching doesn't have to be perfect (irregular stitching is the "defect").

I received it within a week. They ship from Massachusetts. It's big. It's got TONS of pockets. And its mesh. So I'm hoping if it comes on the sand most of it will shake out. It also comes with a hook on the inside for your keys. THAT is awesome because there's nothing worse, at the end of a long beach or pool day, in the heat, digging around for your car keys. Now- I fit four towels in their easily. I think 6 would be pushing it, BUT, if your towels aren't bath sheet size (which I prefer), you might be able to do six. I also had a change of clothes, diapers, body wash and wipes for my son, 2 magazines and three types of various sun lotions in there easily. The straps COULD be longer for my taste but they were fine, especially because of my next find....

Another option- brace yourself. This is going to sound a little odd. We were down in Long Branch for Mothers Day and went into one of those boutiques just off the boardwalk there. They sell all Vera Bradley. I'll be honest. I hate VB. I think it's all so ugly. Just my personal preference. BUT, I saw
these HUGE duffel bag looking things on the floor. They had a long handle that looks like it's meant to be slung over your shoulder. THAT would be perfect. Because when you're trying to manage a kid, a beach chair, toys, etc, whether you have a stroller/cart or what, it would be helpful to just sling your bag over your shoulder. Well guess what? It's VB's new laundry bag. So that also means it's meant to be washable too. How awesome does that sound. It's enormous so it would definitely fit a lot of towels, it would be ok if it got wet, and it has a little pocket for some stuff on the inside. I guess money if you were using it for laundry at a laundromat. The patterns are a little more...tame...too vs the regular ones. Anyway, it's worth checking out, especially if you have multiple kids or are just a person that doesn't travel light.

I'd always seen those carts people use down the shore for all their stuff. We'd always used our Uppa Baby stroller as sort of a cart. But now E is bigger, he can walk and the stroller is just awkward to get on and off the beach. I'd seen the Wonder Wheeler beach cart in the One Step Ahead catalog but I was reluctant to spend $80+ dollars on something I didn't know how often I was going to use. Well, hurray, Bed Bath & Beyond carries the same one or close enough to it for $59.99. If you use the 20% off BB&B coupon you get it under $50!! SO WORTH IT. We used it to go to the pool & at least five people commented, asking where I got it or saying they need one.

One of my real favorite things I use all year round but awesome in the summer is the Pack It lunchbags. They are a great size and a phenomenal idea. I HATE those cold pack things you have to put in coolers for numerous reasons. One, they're bulky. Two, they get condensation on them wetting everything in the bag. Lastly, sometimes they rip/break, etc and then they're ruined. I loved these ones I found in Buy Buy Baby which were like like a bunch of little squares together all filled with water that would freeze. Some of the squares would pop and I'd be left with 5 squares out of 12 eventually AND every time one would pop, there would be water everywhere. These have gel that freezes INSIDE the lining of the bag. It folds up to a rectangle to fit nicely in your freezer without taking up too much space and it keeps your stuff cool all day. I don't believe it really stays the "10 hours" the advertising says but I still think they're the best option for keeping your food & drink cold wherever you go this summer. It used to just come in the lunchbag size but now there are cooler sizes too. They do sell the lunchbag size at Buy Buy Baby where they have the bottles/bottle bags and if you use the coupon, instead of $19.99 it's around $15.

Now for the moms especially- I used to be a bikini girl- even through my 1st & 2nd trimester. But once I had to start hanging out at the kiddie pool, I didn't want to be doing the ugly-naked thing all over the place chasing my son. I'd tried the tankini but it didn't really do it for me. I still felt gross and exposed. I'd seen swimdresses before but they seemed too "old lady" in the past. I was hoping I'd find something and I DID!! These brands helped me out big time- Coco Rave, Coco Reef, Lands End, and Nautica. I don't know what they have this year by those brands but below are some links to take a peek at what I found.

As far as kids and swim goes- E used the foam swim trainer from when he was 1.5 till now- and he's 3 yrs old. I LOVE this thing. It's not made to last but it will last the whole swim season from Memorial Day through Labor Day using it almost daily. I don't know how much it "trains" but it was great just for keeping a kid who has no fear from falling under without being RESTRICTIVE. What three year old wants his movement restricted? Not my kid. Wearing this was like he wasn't wearing anything. Those things that go over his arms would've never worked. He would've hated it. He wants to be able to move about freely and for like $12, this was the best I could find.

Best bathing suit from 0-3T? I have it. I'm so thankful last years still fits- I bought two and rotated them. People goofed that it was silly looking yet it was the easiest thing ever. It's beyond lightweight and only ONE piece. Ease is key with toddlers and this zips on and off in a flash. No messing with rash guard and separate bathing suit shorts. I LOVE this thing. Had it the summer before last, last summer and now this one. I'm so sad it only goes to 3T or he'd be wearing them till he was like seven years old. Think of it like a wetsuit without being skin tight. They used to be at Buy Buy Baby but I didn't see them this year. But you can get directly from the company in boy & girl colors/styles.

So that's it. Hope this is a start to a happy, awesome summer for all! If I find any other cool things along the way I will surely pass them on!!


  1. Love reading your blog... thanks for the tips. I'm totally going to get the Saltwater Canvas bag! And, I already ordered my Lands End swim suit (a swim-mini skirt with great coverage) last week (waiting for it to arrive). Happy Summer!

  2. Aim- the Whale bag is pretty light too. Originally I thought I was going to bite the bullet on the Lands End beach tote with the long handle option. BUT- then I saw it at my town pool. I asked the woman if it had any pockets- NO. And it was HEAVY. The bag itself was heavy so that totally defeats the purpose. Put all those towels in there and then it's like carrying a body around. Best thing about the whale bag is the different size pockets all around the whole thing. I had three bottles of lotion all in separate pockets, my phone/ipod in another, then B's phone, and something else. That meant I didn't have to worry about bringing ziploc bags so they wouldn't open on the inside of the bag.

    Happy summer to you too! You're looking great! I think you should write a blog post about your weight loss journey. I'd love to read it and I'd put it up here if you wanted. Think about it! I'm so proud of you and happy for you! xoxo

  3. Thanks for the info on the bag and the cooler. I have been losing my patience with my LLBean bag because everything goes to the bottom. I have also been having a hard time with the cooler inserts for the reasons you mentioned. I wanted to share a recent purchase of I haven't tried it yet but I needed something for my parent's pool because they are freaking out that Jason refuses to wear a flotation device. And...I have them all. EVERY single one of them. Jury is still out about this suit but it came today and looks really good. VERY different from the ones you see at the stores. The only issue is related to potty training. Never going to happen with this thing...! I can keep you posted on it.

  4. For any blog fans who love the all-in-one rash guard suits: Hanna Anderson has them and they rock! My little girl is on her third summer and third Hanna suit. They also go to larger sizes I believe. Hanna is @ Riverside Square upstairs.

  5. For all who also love the rashguard suits. Hanna Anderson has them (in larger sizes too I think) and they rock! My little girl has had one every summer since she was born and all 3 have stood the test of time. After wearing and washing, they look brand new! Hanna is upstairs in Riverside Square.